Debono's 6 Thinking Hats

As I understand DeBono's '6 thinking hats' they are a tool to help clarify thinking process, each colour denotes an 'aspect' of thinking that can be applied to an issue, to summarise;

  • White represents a blank sheet of paper, this is about gathering and assessing 'raw' data & information in a non-judgemetal, non critical way. Getting the facts straight if you like... Or agreeing a goal/desired outcome.
  • Red represents fire, this is about expression of emotional issues, eg: anger, fears, strong positive or negative feelings, etc.
  • Green represents shoots or new leaves, this is about creativity, expression of creative solutions to problems, disregarding whether these are practical or not.
  • Yellow is sunshine, this is about consequence (positive) -- taking an optimistic view of all the possible benefits of implementing a decision.
  • Black is the judges cap, this is about consequence (critical) -- the 'yes but...', 'what if...' -- looking critically (not necessarily negatively) at a decision- what could go wrong? What might limiting factors be?
  • Blue is sky, taking an overview of the whole process, the co-ordination between all the other 'hats', the 'step back and lets assess where we are at...' or 'OK, this is what we've achieved so far...'

A lot of UK permaculture people seem to like this process ('cos we're all a bunch of co-counsellors -- ha ha). It's quite a useful process -- the idea of 'hats' is that everybody puts on an imaginary hat of the same colour when dealing with an issue, eg, the facilitator/chairperson would say, "lets put on our Red hats about this problem" -- this gives a chance for all the emotional issues around the problem to be aired without fear of censure, however irrational, angry, etc., they might be. "Time for the green hat" means that everybody then applies their efforts to thinking of creative solutions to the problem. "How about some black hat thinking on that" would mean that the whole group then looks at those creative ideas with a critical eye- which are practical? Which wouldn't work and why?

If used properly this process should stop the 'entangling' that can occur in say, conventional meetings, and can be so destructive, when everybody is actually wearing all their different 'hats' at once, pushing their own agendas, eg, mixing up their emotional gut reactions with the bare facts, and allowing these to prevent creative thinking about solutions to take place...

That's a very simple summary, DeBono covers it in more depth in Teach Your Children How To Think -- well worth a read!

Page content originally written by Graham Burnett from [1]

Page data
Keywords community, social permaculture
Authors Ethan
Published 2015
License CC-BY-SA-4.0
Ported from's_6_Thinking_Hats [see first revision]
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